where i have been

where i have been | the merry gourmet

I’ve been missing from this space for so long now that when I sit down to write, it feels foreign and almost uncomfortable. It feels like I don’t know it any more, this blog that once felt like my best friend. Now, she’s like that friend from college who, as it turns out, I really don’t have much in common with these days, but I know that once, long ago, we had lots of great times together and shared all of our secrets. The conversation is now slow to start and we can’t get past the awkward silences and talking about the weather. I really want to hang out with her again, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to confide in her as openly and trustingly as I used to.

I’ve intended to write so many things over so many of these past two years, but I freaked myself out a bit. I began to think about those of you who may still be reading here (when there is something to read). I know many of you may be strangers, some of you are old friends from food blogging and social media, some of you may be friends or colleagues from my real life (as opposed to this online one), a handful of you are family or friends of the family, and a small number of you (or maybe more?) may be patients or friends of patients. I questioned whether it was good for me to be so honest and open and raw. I began to wonder whether what I share here could hurt me in any way. Or whether it could hurt someone I love.

I have never written anything here that I regret (with the exception of that embarrassingly naive first post). Professionally, when I speak to residents or medical students or other physicians about social media and having an online presence, I teach them to never write or share anything that would make their mothers embarrassed. I have practiced what I teach.

But despite my past comfort with being honest in my sharing here, I scared myself away from writing in my blog over these past couple of years with my fear of letting you in. Sure, I’ve written a handful of things, but I’ve not really let you in since my father died. It was not you that scared me off, though. Your comments and emails have been wonderful and supportive and caring. It was me. It was my own fear of being honest and admitting…what? Not weakness, no. Maybe just fear of admitting that life was harder than I could handle.

Many of you must know of Glennon Doyle Melton, or if you don’t know her name, you probably know her blog, Momastery. After reading a handful of her posts over the past year or two, I began following her page on Facebook. Almost two weeks ago, she shared a link to a video she’d made for a TEDx conference in Traverse City. The video was called Lessons from the Mental Hospital, and I’ve now watched it twice. In it, Glennon speaks about overcoming her addictions. Mostly, though, she talks about learning to feel her feelings rather than numbing them and learning to tell the truth.

Something clicked for me as I watched Glennon pace the stage in her cute, boot-cut jeans and talk honestly into the camera about being truthful. I thought about my blog and how I felt paralyzed when I thought of writing a new post. I understood then that I afraid of being honest, and that in the absence of being able to share with complete honesty, I had lost my desire to write.

I’d like to find a way to be honest here and to share my life again – all of it, the good and the bad. I know that I will be limited, to a degree, because some stories are not mine to tell. But my story is mine to tell, and I would like to tell the truth of it because I think that I am not alone (even though it desperately feels that way most days). I think that someone else – maybe one of you, even – may need to understand that he or she is not alone, either.

I know that there are some people in my family who may read what I write and may become angry. They may even shut me out entirely. I have come to know, though, that there are worse fates, and that I am already shut out. Others may be appalled and offended that I would share so openly about things we just don’t talk about except maybe in private Facebook messages or on occasional phone calls, and certainly not in public with strangers.

I can’t care about offending, though. I must be true to myself, and that means being honest and talking out loud about things that are difficult and writing them down. I’ve been down this darkened path of keeping things in, and it’s not working for me. I don’t feel whole.

My truth is this: I am the sister of a schizophrenic who will not take medications consistently. Increasingly over these past several years, I have accepted that my brother is also an addict, turning to drugs to self-medicate. I am the daughter of a mother who fell so deep into depression when my father became ill that alcohol must have seemed her only way to escape. When my father died, I think alcohol must have seemed even more comforting than ever before. Or maybe it seemed the only choice. (I can only speculate. After all, her story is not mine to tell.) I am the mother of a curious and wonderful son who never fails to keep me on my toes. I am the mother of a beautiful seventh grader who has grown up too fast and is determined to wear makeup and embrace social media before I am ready. I am the mother of these two amazing children, and I must keep them at a distance from their uncle because I am afraid of him and the violence that he has proven he is capable of.

I will not tell their stories, but I would like to be brave enough to tell my own. I will try to be brave enough. I think that if I can be honest here again, painfully honest even when it makes me uncomfortable- makes us all uncomfortable – I can write again. I can be here again.

 

    Pin It

17 Responses to “she took her name off the list”

  1. 1
    Avatar
    Gail — December 18, 2014 @ 6:00 pm

    xoxoxoxoxox

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 18th, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

      xoxo right back to you, Gail.

  2. 2
    Avatar

    MJ – I am so sorry to hear about this but glad your mum is on the road to recovery. She’s so lucky to have a daughter like you (and I bet she loves being known as the Doctor’s mum!) XOX

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — December 18th, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

      Thank you so much, Mardi. xo

  3. 3
    Avatar
    Cheryl — December 18, 2014 @ 6:41 pm

    Too often the diagnosis is broken heart. But they can mend and she is showing that. You are a daughter she can be proud of too.

  4. 4
    Avatar
    Janis — December 18, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

    I believe that your mom is wonderful. Look at who she raised ;–)

  5. 5
    Avatar
    Paula Kelly-Bourque — December 18, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

    I have read so many of your posts about you, your father, your family with such a lump in my throat that it was hard to swallow. This one just plain made me tear up. My heart goes out to your Mother, truly it does and I shall remember her and your family in my prayers. God bless all of you.

  6. 6
    Avatar
    Liren — December 19, 2014 @ 1:41 am

    Mothers always think of themselves last, why is it so? MJ, this post touched the deepest part of my heart, and I’m glad she has you there as she remembers herself and how important she is. Sending love to you as you stay strong for your family, too.

  7. 7
    Avatar
    Leigh — December 19, 2014 @ 8:25 am

    Beautifully written. I’m sending so much love to you both. xo

  8. 8
    Avatar
    Flavia — December 19, 2014 @ 11:47 am

    Thank you for sharing such a beautifully written post, MJ. You are blessed to have a mother like yours; not everyone is so fortunate. I can relate to your mom in some ways after being a caregiver for my great-aunt at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. Unlike your mom who dedicated years to caregiving, I only took on the responsibility for five months, but I know what it was like to take myself completely “off the list”, and I know the feelings of sadness and grief that settle into your heart when caregiving responsibilities were over. There is so much that stays with you and so much to “process”. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was often frustrating and heartbreaking. But it was also a blessing and a privilege.

    My prayers are with your mom for a full recovery and a journey back to putting herself not just back on the list, but right at the top. Merry Christmas my friend. So happy to know you. xo

  9. 9
    Avatar
    Sharon — December 19, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

    This made me cry. I so empathize. I hope she takes time to have fun. I have been going through poor health,knee replacement and anxiety wasn’t able to eat for a month I was so shaky and anxious. I hope your Mom feels better soon. I finally started to eat and making energy drinks. I just blend peanut butter, milk, ice, half banana and little chocolate syrup. Seemed to help…at least mentally 🙂

  10. 10
    Avatar
    Alicia K. — December 19, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

    Thank you for sharing your mom’s story. I’m guessing many of us can relate and empathize in some way. I’ve printed your recipe and shall rename it Mrs. George’s Daughter’s Butter Cookies to remind me whenever I look at it of this story about your strong and beautiful mom who put herself back on the list. I cheer for her!

  11. 11
    Avatar
    Cherie — December 19, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

    This touched me so – I’m so glad your mother has put herself back on the list 🙂

    I am going through a divorce, and things for so long have been about taking care of everyone else and keeping all the balls in the air. As things progress I am realizing that for a long time I’ve taken myself off the list. I am trying very hard to find a way back to myself, to get myself on the list, to put my oxygen mask on so I can help those around me do the same.

    My prayers for your mother’s mental and physical health – and for you as you find a new balance caring for her and supporting HER as she cares for your brother.

  12. 12
    Avatar
    Vanessa @frenchfoodiemom — December 20, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

    MJ, thank you for gifting us your mother’s beautiful story. Such a lovely tribute and an important reminder to all of us in the middle place, busy taking care of both children and parents, to not forget our own needs. I hope your mom returns to her dominoes and books soon. She is lucky to have your love and support.

    Your cookie recipe will be our first baked item in our new stove later today.

  13. 13
    Avatar
    Katie Fiore — December 20, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

    Such a touching and moving story. You’ve put it into words beautifully as well.

  14. 14
    Avatar
    Colleen — December 22, 2014 @ 1:49 pm

    Condolences on the loss of your father. What a beautiful tribute to your mother. I have tears on so many levels. But hope, too. Thank you for sharing.

  15. 15
    Avatar
    Mallory @forkvsspoon — December 29, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

    So touching – you have a story telling gift, especially with stories that are hard to write but they are often the ones that hit a chord with so many. Thanks for sharing and much love to you and your mom!

Leave a Comment